Coffee With Purps

Coffee Conversations with a Purple Girl

Orange vs. Green

green and orange colours of the irish national flag

green and orange colours of the irish national flag

Happy St. Patrick’s Day, dear friends! As a human who’s very mixed heritage is mostly Irish, this day meant a lot to me growing up. What started as a genuine celebration of the life of Ireland’s first missionary, has become a celebration of just being Irish, really, and an excuse from those who enjoy over indulging in alcohol to drink excessively. I’m not going to lie, I don’t appreciate the notion that St. Patrick’s Day is all about drinking. Can’t people just enjoy a reasonable amount of Guinness, eat their corned beef and be happy? Is it worth the drunken rampage and the mass hangovers the next morning? Is it worth the property damage and the frightened children hiding inside because some drunk guy is pissing on their lawn and yelling? What I’m saying is, drink responsibly this St. Patrick’s day. Don’t go on drunken blunders.

Now that that’s out of the way, when I was growing up I was super excited about celebrating St. Patrick’s Day, because, hey, it’s a celebration of my heritage! Everyone at school was all hyped up about wearing green and then my mom told me this: “Your grandfather was protestant, and the protestants wear orange.” Mind. Blown. Apparently, and I may have the story wrong, I’m sure she’ll correct me, when she was a kid her grandfather told her they were “Orangemen” and so she wore orange to school on St. Patrick’s day and her teacher got sooo mad. Her teacher was Irish Catholic, I think, so it was like super offensive to her that my mom would wear orange on St. Patrick’s Day since the protestants didn’t even celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. So, ever since I’ve done my best to wear orange on St. Patrick’s Day, since I, too, am protestant.

Here’s the awkward thing, though. I look terrible in orange. I don’t even know if I have any orange anymore. I don’t know what it is about my skin tone, if I’m just too pale, or what, but I just can’t pull it off. My sister can, which is super not fair, but I just can’t. I’ve tried, it brings me nothing but shame. My husband doesn’t even own anything orange. I’ve checked. I could have sworn there was a burnt orange something somewhere, but I guess not. Actually, I think there’s one more basket I could check, so we’ll see.

Green, on the other hand, looks pretty good on me and I like it a lot. So I am caught in this debate of, do I wear the traditionally appropriate color that I don’t own and don’t look good in, or do I wear the commonly expected color that I do own and look good in, but is not representative of my faith? Okay, so it’s an easy answer. Green is my only option, but it’s so disappointing. I love to be contrary and different from the mainstream. I love the idea of pulling something obscure from the roots of a tradition and acting on them. It makes me feel cool and like I’m connecting with a greater part of the thing itself. I like the why and to stick to that why, even if the current trends have very much twisted what it is today. So I’m sad that I don’t own orange, but we’ll do the green anyway.

So on a slightly related note, five years ago I went to a St. Patrick’s Day folk dance held by the folk dancing club. I don’t think it was actually on St. Patrick’s Day, but close enough. Anyway, the price of admission as a dollar, or you could wear green or orange to get in for free. I wore green, because of reasons stated above and there I met (for the second time) my husband. Not that this has any particular relation to the wearing of green or orange, I just like the fact that we’ve officially known each other five years now.

Anyway, I’m consoling myself with the understanding that the celebration of St. Patrick’s Day isn’t a catholic celebration in America, it’s a celebration of Irish heritage and a connection to the old country. So the wearing of green is not really a catholic thing here, it’s just part of the St. Patrick’s Day tradition. The associations are very different now and while I might like the idea of the old color differences, I cannot keep to them, due to my skin tone and lack of orange clothing. So I’ll probably throw on some green today, maybe make my husband grab some shamrock shakes, because I still haven’t gotten one of those, and we’ll eat Ruben sandwiches tonight and maybe I can get him to watch something Irishy with me. We’ll see. So to sum up; don’t get drunk, it’s terribly unseemly, and wear whatever color you want. Regardless, have a lovely St. Patrick’s Day, my friends!

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